During the first Democratic Debate a few months ago, all the candidates were asked a rather simple question: “Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter?” The moderator called on Bernie Sanders first and the Senator answered simply “Black Lives Matter” before addressing the issue of racial injustice in America.
While Hillary Clinton spoke of racism as well, she dodged the actual question, perhaps afraid to attach herself to a protest movement that mainstream white America wasn’t sure about. Sanders had no problem throwing his support behind Black Lives Matter that night and he still doesn’t.
On Thursday, his campaign released their latest ad, though you wouldn’t know it was a Sanders ad (aside from the logo in the bottom-right of the screen) for the first two minutes and 37 seconds of the 3 minute and 56 second spot. For most of the ad, Erica Garner talks about her daughter, fighting racism, her father Eric Garner who was murdered by police and her work with Black Lives Matter.
This is a very powerful and moving ad and one which flips the script on standard campaign advertising, making it more about the story of the person supporting the candidate than the politician. It is also rather slick and clearly professionally produced. This ad wasn’t made on the cheap.
It has now become clear that the hefty amount of small donations pouring into the Sanders campaign are being put to good use. Even if Bernie doesn’t become president or even win the Democratic nomination (though I really hope he does both), he is helping to spread the Black Lives Matter message in a way that only a well-funded presidential campaign can.
Bernie is putting the issues and the message first. Maybe that’s why Garner says in the video “I think Bernie is a protester.”